Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate that 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have died since the wildfires broke out in Australia in September,media reported. Fires have swept across Victoria and the south coast of New South Wales, burning millions of hectares of national parks. Water is hard to find in the affected areas due to the fires, which is one of the reasons for the large number of animal deaths.
Koalas are one of the worst-hit animals in the area, moving slowly and eating only eucalyptus leaves, which are high in oil and therefore highly flammable. In less than four months, about 8000 koalas have been killed, a third of all koalas on the NSW mid-north coast.
Australia’s Environment Minister Susan Rae said the exact animal death toll could not be available until the fire had fully subsided.
Without prior protocols and procedures, even wildlife caregivers currently have no reasonable access to the fire. At present, local residents can only spontaneously rescue the injured animals and send them to the relevant hospitals for treatment.
Dr Kelly Leigh, executive director of Wildlife Science, a non-profit group, said: “There are no resources and plans to save the fire-threatened koala population, which is a big lesson and we are not prepared very well. “